NEW YORK - New Zealand has a good chance of winning a seat on the United Nations Security Council, Prime Minister John Key says.
Mr Key this evening (about 11am NZT) addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York for the first time and used the opportunity to launch New Zealand's bid for a position on the 15-member council.
The opening week of the General Assembly is intensely observed by countries and this year was the largest ever with more than 160 world leaders present.
Mr Key's 6pm slot (local time) on a Friday night saw less than half of the countries represented in the chamber but there was a rustling and picking up of speech notes when Mr Key made his announcement.
"Distinguished representatives, New Zealand takes very seriously its responsibilities for creating and maintaining peace and security in its region and in the world," Mr Key said.
"I am therefore pleased to confirm New Zealand's candidature for the United Nations Security Council for 2015-2016, in elections to be held in 2014."
New Zealand has served three times on the Security Council most recently in 93-94.
There are five permanent members; United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and United States and 10 temporary representatives elected by member nations.
Mr Key told reporters that at this stage there was no competition as only one other country, Spain, had put up its hand for one of the positions but, "anything can happen between now and 2014."
However: "I'd like to think we have a good chance of getting there."
Australia and Canada have bids for earlier years so if either missed they might try again.
Mr Key said a win would be positive for New Zealand.
"It certainly gives us profile, and it helps New Zealand, and advances our causes if you like but it's also part of playing our role here in the United Nations and hopefully playing our part in making sure we live in a world that's more secure," he said.
The last time New Zealand served on the council it was highly regarded and Mr Key said the timing was right, 20 years later, to try again.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully would work aggressively over coming years to get support, Mr Key said.
A hot issue for the council was nuclear non-proliferation and it passed a resolution yesterday to put more impetus into the issue.
The resolution came just before revelations Iran was building a second uranium enrichment facility.
"That will just heighten the world's concern about Iran and potentially North Korea and others building up a nuclear arsenal," Mr Key said.
New Zealand had long been nuclear free and it appeared now there was impetus from the US and others to address the weapon problem.
"I think when it comes to nuclear weapons there's a recognition now that they can do far more harm than they could ever do good. There's obviously reluctance from those who haven't necessarily reduced their holding of nuclear weapons."
Mr Key also sought to play down any conflict between the US position of retaining some restrictions on military interaction with New Zealand, in force since the country became nuclear free, and President Obama's rhetoric on non-proliferation.
"That issue is very much in the past we are seeing a warming of the relationship."
He said there had been no official talks on the issue but would not comment when asked if they had been at an informal level.
"We see progress being made in a more simplified environment, the presidential perogative that's there still remains and we are not pushing hard for that to be removed."
In his speech Mr Key urged the G20 meeting taking place in Pittsburgh to push for a successful Doha round of trade talks and urged countries to drop protectionist measures.
He also touched on the New Zealand initiative to set up an international alliance for research into reducing agricultural emissions.
- NZPABy Maggie Tait of NZPA